Say you post a story about a community member with a strong connection with your cause that you know will resonate with your supporters. When you have a commenting feature on your blog, your readers can actually engage with the story, sharing their own personal connections or words of encouragement and advice—all through the blog post comments.
Blog post comments allow nonprofits to have a conversation with their supporters through content on their website. Learn the benefits of comments and tips on productively using them to engage with your audience.
Benefits of Comments
It’s no secret that our staff at Wired Impact loves blogs. One of the things that I love most about blogging is the ability to use it as a two-way communication with our audience. We can give advice on nonprofit marketing all day long (and we love it), but it’s a special moment when one of our readers asks a question we may not have covered (we’re not perfect!) or to share a relevant story about their organization’s marketing.
The same relationship building goodness goes for nonprofit blogs. At the end of each blog post, remind readers that they can ask questions and share their stories in the comments. Just be sure that you then respond to those questions and stories in a meaningful way to encourage further engagement.
Even if the comment is something like, “Another great post! I really enjoy reading these,” you should do your best to still reply. That’s how communication works, right? They took the time to interact with your post in a meaningful way, and it’s only fair that you return the favor. Write them a quick note thanking them for their readership and support. It doesn’t take much of your time, and it can go a long way in personalizing your organization to those actually reading what you have to say.
Moderating Blog Post Comments
Some of the commenting waters can get a little murky. Many blog post commenting systems, including the one we use for our clients’ WordPress websites, allow you to moderate comments, meaning comments don’t automatically post on your site. Website admins can go in and publish and respond to the legitimate comments, deleting or marking the rest as spam.
To help you reap all of the benefits of blog post comments, we pulled together some moderation tips on topics we get asked about all the time, like dealing with spam comments or how long you have to respond to a comment.
Connecting With Commenters
Channel your friendly, nonprofit marketer self as you interact with commenters. There are a few easy ways to connect with commenters right off the bat.
- Say hello
- Thank them for engaging with the post
- Use their name in your response
Most importantly, you should strive to answer their comment to the best of your ability. You could also provide additional, helpful resources or offer to connect with them offline when necessary. It’s okay to admit it when you’re not sure about how to approach something. Your readers will appreciate your honesty over a half-baked answer.
You don’t want to publish spammy comments on your blog that could de-value the post or send your readers to a scary spot on the web. If it has any of the following qualities, it’s most likely spam:
- The author did not use their real name, most likely using a keyword or business name instead.
- The email address the author used looks fake. This could be something brazen like email@example.com or more subtle like including a name that’s different than the one they used as the comment author.
- It links to an unsafe or questionable website (go with your gut here), or to a 404 page.
- It uses offensive or mean language.
It’s not the end of the world if a few pieces of spam end up as comments on your blog, but you’ll want to make an effort to keep out the obvious ones where possible. Plus, you don’t want to waste your time responding to spammers that don’t actually care about your content. Go ahead and mark these comments as spam so that your blog knows not to let comments from that person through to you again.
The general rule is the sooner you answer a comment, the better. However, not all comments are created equal and you’ll learn as you go to prioritize the more meaningful comments. For those asking timely questions integral to your cause or work, you’ll want to make an effort to respond a little more quickly than to a comment of something like “Great job, I really loved the post.”
But we understand how things go sometimes. In general, do your best to answer blog post comments within 3-5 days of them being submitted.
Answering Negative Comments
Not everyone is going to agree with everything that you post, and it’s important to address negative comments on your blog. Always treat them with respect while explaining your side of the story. It can be tough, but we’ve found that readers appreciate an honest and direct approach.
However, if the commenter uses offensive language, there’s no need to respond to or publish their comments. You can simply delete these comments from your blog without engaging with their unsavory behavior.
Turning Off Comments
You don’t have to have comments on your blog, but in our mind, the benefits are worth the time it takes to manage them. However, if moderating comments is taking you too much time, you’re finding that you only get spam and your audience is not interacting with you through the comments, you might consider turning the comments off.
But, as a benchmark, we’ve yet to see a nonprofit website fall into this situation and would typically recommend that you include commenting on your blog.
Getting one bad comment and a few spammy ones to sort through is no reason to turn off the whole system. Comments allow your audience to interact with you and with your content, asking questions or sharing resources and personal experiences that can deepen their trust in your organization’s expertise and belief in your mission.
Do you have any lingering questions about the benefits of blog post comments or how to respond to them? It would seriously make my day if you comment on my post about comments. (I enjoy all things meta.)